A franchise dispute can quickly explode into a serious confrontation when the franchisor accuses you, as the franchisee, of misusing their intellectual property. Defending yourself against such a claim is crucial in maintaining your reputation and ensuring that you can continue to operate your franchise.
The World Intellectual Property Organization defines IP as the creations of the mind used in commerce or business. It stands to reason that you will handle your franchisor’s intellectual property on a near-daily basis as a franchisee, so it is crucial to understand how you can protect yourself if you stand accused of misusing that IP.
Refer to your franchise agreement
A well-written franchise agreement includes details on marketing practices and other matters regarding how you present the business. This, of course, should include proper and approved use of the franchisor’s intellectual property. The terms within the franchise agreement may help you prove that your use of the IP is acceptable according to the phrasing of the contract.
Refer to the operations manual
Your franchise agreement ultimately outlines the legal obligations between yourself and your franchisor and might not make specific mention of IP handling. If this is the case, you can instead refer to the operations manual that your franchisor should provide for extensively instructing you on how to handle the business. An operations manual should leave no room for ambiguity, but if the terms of IP use are ambiguous, you can use that to strengthen your case.
Franchise disputes can be exceedingly complex and delicate affairs that you should not handle alone. Contact Zarco Einhorn Salkowski, P.A. today for a free consultation.